MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, THE
Neo (Keanu Reeves)’s transformation at the end of The Matrix Reloaded left him drained of his power, adrift in a no man’s land between the Matrix and the Machine World. While Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) holds vigil over Neo’s comatose body, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) grapples with the revelation that the One is merely another system of control invented by the architects of the Matrix. The rogue programmer Smith (Hugo Weaving) has cunningly hijacked Bane (Ian Bliss), a member of the hovercraft fleet, and with Smith’s power increasing every second, he is beyond even the control of the Machines, threatening to destroy their empire along with the real world and the Matrix.
Review by Louise Keller:
A compelling, enigmatic conclusion to the Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions is an indulgence in style enhanced by breathtaking visuals in a stimulating, densely constructed story. What does it all mean? The Wachowski Brothers know, no doubt, but there is a touch of ‘going too far’, as the plot runs away a little and there is much that confuses. But, it is still an enjoyable trip, fusing together the intricate mix of philosophy, mythology and technology in this battle of good against evil, where issues and questions are left for us to chew over at will.
There are many levels on which to enjoy this film, from its sheer innovation of production design, special effects and amazingly diverse music score or as fuel from which to speculate on the symbolism of its story. Yes, the Wachowskis have created an extraordinary reality that hooks us from the start. The focus in this final chapter is the thrilling battle against the machines, in which massive, octopus-like metal machines detonate a frenetic attack sequence with all the voracity of a jungle-full of wild tigers. The effects are awesome as tension mounts and we are surrounded by an inescapable horror of never-ending aggression.
Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving are the key magnets and each brings much to their characters. All the characters leave their mark – and even though the alluring Monica Bellucci may only appear in one scene (with one single line of dialogue), she is highly memorable, wearing an impossibly low-cut dress that reveals yet miraculously conceals. Reeves’ Neo offers an appealing mystique through his stillness, while Moss endears us to her Trinity’s purity and devotion. Weaving’s eerily evil agent Mr Smith (and his replicas) makes a splendid villain and one we love to hate. The central love-story between Neo and Trinity has a sweet innocence and their moments together are filled with poignancy.
But the undisputed highlight is the final encounter between Neo and Mr Smith, when the dazzle of the ‘bullet time’ technique for depicting the action in the style of anime is married with exciting martial arts choreography and wire work. This is a marvellously thrilling sequence, set in a relentless and torrential electrical storm, with the army of Mr Smith clones looking on passively, as the representatives of good and evil fight it out. The most important thing is that we believe in the characters, and perhaps the moral of the story goes something like ‘It’s not always about knowing, but about believing.’
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Driven perhaps by their own furious demands for a finale in The Matrix trilogy that surpasses the previous two episodes, the Wachowski brothers turn excess and overstatement into even more of an artform than Quentin Tarantino has in Kill Bill Volume 1. If it weren’t for some outstanding key performances elevating the film’s interest level to the sustainable, The Matrix Revolutions would be nothing but an exercise in design-driven, eye-popping visual spectacle. It is certainly that, and all the designers – whether traditional or CGI – must have thought they were in movie heaven working on the film. Unless, of course, you take the elaborate, almost baroque spirituality of the story of Neo as seriously as the characters do.
But even then, I find the film is too confusing in the telling to satisfy the hunger for some insight and context. The latter is tragically missing, too, in the extended, chaotic and undecipherable battle sequence between machines and the human soldiers of Zion, who also ‘wear’ oversized machines as extensions of themselves. If you want to start unravelling the film’s internal philosophy, this would be a good place to start, but don’t worry, I’m not going to. But I do like the notion that Agent Smith is a rogue virus that intends to gobble up its inventor: I hope it is prophetic and scares the megabytes out of all virus-makers. But alas, most of the script badly lets down the otherwise extraordinary enterprise. Banal lines of dialogue, and in some cases not so outstanding performances that come from the overstated acting traditions of pantomime, are too frequent. The flying ships are too often cajoled along with trite cries or whispers along the lines of ‘c’mon baby’ and the longer speeches play like sermons. A fearless script editor (or even perhaps producer Joel Silver himself) might have suggested trimming the film’s bloated running time by snipping off a third or so of every fight or action scene; but this is where it gets tricky.
If the film is aimed at young male action fans, perhaps the cuts should be made in the speeches. If it’s aimed at an audience who wants to think about the moral issues, perhaps the script should have been rewritten. Or are the Ws not actually considering a particular audience, rather delivering a maxi-vision movie of their wonderful and weird imagination. I can’t help thinking the latter, especially as I recall the extended scenes where Agent Smith and Neo fight it out in the old battle of good v evil. Here are these supremely powerful beings, able to fly, to mentally ward off deadly machines by holding out a hand (Neo in the pre-closing sequence) and to survive falls from skyscrapers … resorting to the old fashioned fisticuffs of old, or cowboys in a brawl.
But their fists have little impact, nor do their martial arts kicks and chops, even as they crash through concrete walls. They are both immune and to me this seems really silly. There is a hint of the possibilities inherent in the screenplay as the Wachowskis try to bring about a resolution for peace, but this isn’t realised. Hugo Weaving and Carrie-Anne Moss (again) deliver the most complex, satisfying and credible performances, with Mary Alice terrific as The Oracle, Laurence Fishburne back on form as Morpheus. Every frame of the film is a marvellous illusion, and there is a faintly pious tone to the message, yet in the end it somehow seems so shallow.
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THE MATRIX RELOADED
MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, THE (MA)
CAST: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Monica Bellucci, Jade Pinkett Smith, Nona Gaye, Clayton Watson, Ian Bliss, Mary Alice
PRODUCER: Joel Silver
DIRECTOR: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski (as The Wachowski Brothers)
SCRIPT: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Pope
EDITOR: Zach Staenberg
MUSIC: Don Davis
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Owen Paterson
RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 6, 2003
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.